Question: I am currently in the U.S. on an F1 Student visa, but my F1 status will expire soon. I tried purchasing an airline ticket to travel back to China after my graduation ceremony, but there are no flights available before my student status expires. What will happen if my student visa expires and I remain inside the U.S.? Is it possible to change from an F1 student to a B2 visitor before my F1 expires?
Answer: If your student status expires before you leave the U.S., you will begin to accrue “unlawful presence” for each day that you remain inside the U.S. To avoid this from happening, you can apply to change your visa status from an F1 student to a B2 visitor. To qualify for a change of visa status, you must submit the following to USCIS:
- An application to change your nonimmigrant status from F1 student status to B2 visitor status;
- A written statement requesting the change of status. You must explain your reason for changing your status. You should explain how you plan to support yourself financially. You should explain that you have no intention of permanently remaining in the U.S.;
- Proof of funds to support your living expenses, such as three months of your most recent bank statements showing enough funds to pay your living expenses for six months. If someone else is supporting you financially, you must provide proof of their current income, bank statements, and a written statement from them explaining how they will support you;
- Proof of purchase of a flight leaving the U.S.;
- Proof of any ties to your home country, such a deed or lease agreement, a letter from your employer stating that they expect you to return on a certain date, monthly bills, and affidavits from relatives and friends who can attest that your trip to the U.S. was only temporary.
What does “accrue unlawful presence” mean?
If you have remained in the U.S. after the expiration of the period of stay authorized, you will start to accrue unlawful presence. If you depart the U.S. after accruing unlawful presence, you may trigger a 3-year or 10-year bar on reentry. It is very important to consult an immigration Attorney to ensure you have not triggered any bars during your visit in the U.S.
What if I don’t know what date of travel to choose when purchasing my airline ticket?
You can purchase a refundable airline ticket in case you need to change the date of travel while your request for a status change is still pending with USCIS. In the meantime, any date will suffice to prove your intentions to depart the U.S.
ImmiFree.Law is The Harrison Law Firm P.C.’s online platform to make the family immigration and naturalization process more efficient, accurate, and affordable. Baya Harrison, Esq. is an attorney licensed in New York, Florida, and California. Attorney Harrison has helped numerous individuals and families navigate the U.S. immigration process, specifically family-based petitions and naturalization.